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Yellow Jacket Mining
KY-Yellow Jacket Gold Mine Fire

Gold Hill, Storey County, Nevada
April 7, 1869
No. Killed - 37

Multiple News Articles  (39 Mb)  PDF Format
Storey County, Nevada Fatalities on April 7, 1869
Yellow Jacket Mine Fire Historical Marker
Location: 39° 17.538′ N, 119° 39.449′ W.
Marker is near Virginia City, Nevada, in Storey County.  Marker is on South Main Street south of Homestead Road, on the right when traveling south.  Marker is at or near this postal address: 1540 S Main Street, Virginia City NV 89440
Photographer: Matthew J. Ebert
Source: The Historical Marker Database  External Link
See also: Yellow Jacket Gold Mine Fire, Sept. 20, 1873
Yellow Jacket Gold Mine Fire, July 1, 1879
Yellow Jacket Mine Haulage Disaster, June 18, 1880

Disasters on the Mining Frontier: A Look at Two Events on the Comstock    (3.3 Mb)
By Ronald M. James
Timber for the Comstock    (1.9 Mb)
By Thomas J. Straka

From the Google News Archives:  External Link
(news links open in a separate window)

Successful Rescue

James Dunlevy was the sole survivor of nine miners on the level where the fire started.  He felt himself suffocating and he lay down on the floor of the level and put an overcoat over his head.  All his eight companions on the same level were imprisoned by the falling rocks.  Their bodies were never recovered.  It was hours after Dunlevy had been rescued in the cage before he regained consciousness.  Source document  External Link

The Calamity at Gold Hill
Morning Oregonian, Portland, Oregon
April 9, 1869

Virginia, April 8, 9 P.M. -- The fire in the Gold Hill mines still continues to burn as bad as ever, owing to a cave-in in the Yellow Jacket.  The firemen cannot now reach the fire.  Every effort is being made to clear the drift.  Eighteen dead bodies have been taken out of the drifts and the shafts of the burning mine.  Nine lay together where they had climbed to a drift one hundred feet above the one thousand foot level.  Two of the miners killed, John Hogan and Joseph McClellan, were members of the Virginia Fire Department.  Funeral this afternoon.

The 900-foot level of the Crown Point mine is free from smoke.  The fire appears to be principally in the Yellow Jacket, south of the cave.  It is thought it will take all day to remove the cave so as to get water to bear again on the fire.

Virginia, April 8. -- The efforts made in subduing the fire this afternoon have been gradually quite successful.  The tunnel of the Yellow Jacket has been cleared of the obstruction caused by the cave, so that water could be brought to bear on the fire.  It is now reported that there is no fire on the 800-foot level and but little on the 700 foot level.  Another body, that of McCormick, has been brought to the surface.  It is hoped and expected that all the bodies will be got to the surface during the day.  It is now quite confidently asserted that no material damage has been done to the mines.  All the hoisting works are perfect.

Virginia, April 8, 9 P.M. -- The following is a correct estimate of affairs at the scene of the Gold Hill disaster:

Twenty-eight bodies in all have been recovered.  There are four more known to be in the mine, and there may possibly be eight more.  The fire remains as in the morning, still burning on the 900-foot level, and on the line below the Kentuck and the Yellow Jacket near the south entry.

The tunnel has been so much obstructed by the caves that little effective work has been done today towards subduing the flames.  The water gave out in the forenoon, but at four in the afternoon a supply sufficient for four or five hours was obtained and a stream sent down.  The damage cannot be ascertained until the fire is subdued.  It is conceded that it cannot permanently injure the mine.

This information is derived from an intelligent workman in the mine, who knows every foot of the ground and was in the mine when the fire commenced.  He has since been down as near the fire as one could live.  All of the bodies taken from the mine have the appearance of having died a most painful death.  The features are flushed, swollen and distorted.

One was found hanging by a ladder in a shaft with one leg fast and holding with a death grip by both hands to the ladder.  Some were found in the dump at the 1,100 foot level, where they had fallen from the levels above.  The most were found in the 1,000-foot level, Crown Point, lying in all sorts of despairing positions, as they fell.  Some are terribly disfigured, one so much so as to be unrecognizable.

Gus Bickell, who was hoisted out alive, died at noon today.  Funerals have been numerous today, attended by the military, firemen, Odd Fellows and the miners Union organization.

Robert Welsh, who has worked most heroically in getting out the dead, was taken out this afternoon nearly insensible from asphyxia.

The name of John King, given in the list of the dead, should have been John Hallisey.

Eleven of the miners killed were married and two had families of five children each.  It is hoped that the corporations for which their protectors lost their lives will not prove soulless in caring for them.

J. Oran, a miner in the Hale & Norcross, had the fingers of his left hand badly crushed today, disabling him for some weeks.

Wells Fargo and Company shipped last evening twelve bars of bullion weighing 635 pounds and valued at $1,589.899.

The following is a list of mine fatalities which occurred in Storey County, Nevada on April 7, 1869:
  1. George Bickell, 31
  2. James Bickell, 27
  3. Richard Bickell, 33
  4. Peter Blouin
  5. Patrick Buckley
  6. Jeremiah Chenette
  7. Martin Clooney
  8. George Edmonds, 35
  9. Joseph Glassen
  10. A. G. Grant
  11. James Hallasy
  12. John Hallasy, 30
  13. John Hogan
  14. Patrick Hogan
  15. Edward Jewell
  1. William Jewell
  2. Johnathan Jones, 31
  3. Thomas Laity, 32
  4. Joseph Matthews, 21
  5. Thomas McCallum, 25
  6. John McClelland
  7. Michael McCormick
  8. Richard McCormick
  9. Thomas McCoy
  10. Thomas McCullin 25
  11. A. J. McDonald
  12. Michael McDonald
  13. Archibald McDougal, 27
  14. William Mitchell, 23
  1. John O'Brien
  2. Daniel O'Neil
  3. James Peters, 26
  4. Patrick E. Quinn
  5. A. Reinay
  6. John Rohan
  7. K. Ryan
  8. Harry Stephens
  9. Thomas Toland
  10. George Tompkins, 29
  11. Matt Tooney
  12. Anthony Toy, 24
  13. Richard Toy
  14. William H. Williams, 35
Source: Nevada Mining Accidents, 1869-1944
Both the MSHA Fatality Archive Database External Link and the CDC/NIOSH Disaster List External Link indicate the total number of deaths from this disaster was 37.

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